Every American over the age of 60 had to, at some point in their education, memorize and understand the following passage out of our Declaration of Independence;
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Americans under the age of 60 have been given the watered down version removing any reference to a Creator and placing the emphasis on rights – not so much life – but very much on liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The idea that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed has been thrown out with the idea of a Creator or a right to life based on the dignity of having been created.
The idea of altering or abolishing a government – even in order to institute a new one – is now an exercise only for the professionals. If engineers can tame the physical universe then surely social engineers can solve all societal problems and if you are not credentialed in the social sciences you have no right to interfere with a government designed by your betters to improve your world.
What most Americans of any age have NEVER bothered to realize is that the Declaration of Independence contains a bill of particulars of the specific grievances that the colonists had which we have reproduced here:
- He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
- He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
- He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
- He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
- He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
- He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
- He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
- He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
- He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
- He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
- He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
- He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
- He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
- For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
- For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
- For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
- For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
- For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
- For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
- For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
- For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
- He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
- He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
- He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
- He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
- He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
As ennobling as the opening paragraphs are and as specific as the grievances are what almost no one realizes is that the Declaration of 1776 is no part of the Constitution of 1787 and has had no force of law from 1787 forward. All arguments to the contrary are the mendacious exploitation of the credible by those who would seek to grant law giving powers to a federal government that it does no legitimately possess.
Nash’s book is an exercise of this sort of deception attempting to subvert what was a profoundly conservative revolution into the sort of nihilistic exercises that plagued Europe from 1789 until 1917 and have plagued the emerging world since. Taken as an anecdotal history of some genuinely American eccentrics it is an amusing taradiddle but that is its extreme limit.
The unknown American Revolution : the unruly birth of democracy and the struggle to create America Gary B. Nash New York : Viking, 2005 Hardcover. xxix, 512 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG
In the rows of august marble busts that commemorate the American Revolution, we have lost sight of the true radical spirit of the longest and most disruptive upheaval in our history. In this reexamination of the swirl of ideology, grievance, outrage, and hope that animated the revolutionary decades, Nash demonstrates that though the Founding Fathers led the charge, the energy to raise a revolt emerged from all classes of American society.
Millennialist preachers and enslaved Africans, frontier mystics and dockside tars, disgruntled women and aggrieved Indians — all had their own fierce vision of what an independent America could and should be. According to Nash, the American Revolution was truly a people’s revolution, a civil war at home as well as an armed insurrection against colonial control.